A Visit and a Legacy - Rod and Pam Russell
The Community Foundation is officially back open to the public! Like so many organizations, the last year has required plenty of flexibility and adjustment to comply with recommendations from Hancock Public Health and the CDC. I’m thrilled that our staff is back in the office and friends of the Foundation can stop by. Rod Russell was one of our first visitors after reopening. It’s fitting that he would stop by during scholarship season as a founder of a scholarship fund. I’d like to share a little about Rod and his wife Pam and the difference they continue to make in the lives of students working to pursue their education.
Rod and Pam were lifelong Arlington residents. They were high school sweethearts who got married in 1969. Rod is a Vietnam veteran who, after returning home safely, chose education as his future career. During his 41-year career, he was a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent. He cared deeply about his students, offering an endless supply of encouragement. “I just loved being around the kids and that kept me going,” he said. “I think for any good educator, you’re motivated and inspired by the kids.”
Pam was right beside Rod throughout his career, providing love and support, and attending every game he coached. Rod frequently shared stories with Pam about students who were struggling with family and financial issues beyond their control. Their talks often turned to the idea of setting up a scholarship fund someday for students in need.
Weeks before Rod’s retirement, Pam was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Five months later in December of 2016, she passed away.
Rod and Pam looked forward to spending more time together in retirement. Instead, Rod became determined to honor Pam by fulfilling another dream they shared. After talking with his three children, he reached out to The Community Foundation to set up an endowed scholarship for an Arlington High School graduate. The Rod and Pam Russell Family Scholarship was established to create a legacy that will be carried on by their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond.
As a longtime educator, Rod knew he wanted their family scholarship to benefit not the straight-A student, but the student from Arlington High School who volunteers in the community, works part-time and achieves decent grades despite challenging life circumstances. Each year, Rod reviews the scholarship applications and participates in the selection process. “My hope is that this scholarship will be a jump start for a kid who needs it,” said Rod. “It’s a way to make a difference and help someone begin the next phase of life.”
Each year when the scholarship is awarded, the Russell family makes a difference in the life of a young person pursuing their education. A student who works hard, tries their best and earns decent grades. Their family will be remembered and celebrated forever as the number of students impacted by their generosity grows.
We, and the community, are grateful for the Russell Family and all the donors we partner with, for making a difference in the lives of Hancock County students for generations. If you’d like to talk about how you can make a lasting community impact through a scholarship, contact us or call (419) 425-1100.
This editorial was originally printed in The Courier Thursday, June 24, 2021.